This article has been published as part of a series of profiles on Caldwell Borough Council Candidates. All candidates will be featured individually during the week leading up to the November 2019 election.
CALDWELL, NJ — Meet Frances DePalma-Iozzi, a 48-year resident running for Caldwell Borough Council in the upcoming election on Nov. 5.
Frances DePalma-Iozzi earned a bachelor’s degree from William Paterson University and a master’s degree from Kean University. She also took on additional coursework at Montclair State University, Columbia University, Ithaca College and Hartt College of Music. DePalma-Iozzi is married to Dr Louis Iozzi.
Q: Do you support the recent increase in municipal taxes?
A: The municipal budget is approximately 27% of the total tax levy. So the council only controls that percentage.
Within that....63% of the increase this year is previously negotiated police contracts. Additionally, the sewer system is in need of work. It has not been updated since the 1960’s, it is at 95% capacity, and some residents have had sewage backing up into their homes ( a decidedly unpleasant and unhealthy situation.)
As most residents know, the parking lot at the community center will need to be demolished.
The roof on the municipal building has been leaking for many years, and the police have to cover their equipment with tarps.
And the emergency surplus fund, which is required of municipalities, has been depleted and is dangerously low. It will need to be built up over time. ( the League of Municipalities recommends at least 20%.)
I am concerned that young people are able to move into town, and that older people can afford to stay. I am also aware that infrastructure is the foundation of the town’s livability. These issues will be on the forefront of our minds if Jeff and I are lucky enough to join the Kelley administration ... who are diligently and creatively working on these issues.
Q: Name Item you would reduce or cut in the municipal budget and why?
A: The sewer commission, which was made up of council members, gave themselves a 52% pay raise a few years ago. I am aware that some council members refused to take the raise. I would want to look into that.
Q: Tell us about your professional career....
A: I have lived most of my life in Caldwell-West Caldwell ( since I was 16 years old). I was a music educator in the Caldwell-West Caldwell Schools for 37 years, have been on the signage and zoning committees, and presently conduct the Crane’s Mill Senior Citizens Chorus.
I am immediate past president of the Montclair Women’s Club, am on the board of Casa Colombo Center for the Arts in Jersey City, am founder and director of WomanSONG Chorus, which includes many West Essex women, and am pianist in a 1940’s style Big Band.
My experience working with diverse groups of people has helped me to understand and appreciate the cares and concerns of our residents.
Q: What should people know about you that they might not know already?
A: I have 2 sisters and their families, three cousins and their families, and 2 nieces and their families who reside in Caldwell- West Caldwell. And I want them to stay here!
Jeff and I view our role as helpers. As we traveled the town, knocking on doors and listening to concerns, we actually were able to help several residents. One resident had sewage issues which we helped to remedy, and one resident has ongoing water issues that are currently being examined.. This is one of the reasons that Jeff and I chose the motto #Securing Our Future.
Q: Why are you running for borough council?
A: I have lived here most of my life and love this community. Over recent months, I have talked to my fellow citizens about their concerns....parking, sewage, water issues and the schools. I want to work towards practical solutions to longstanding, unaddressed problems with an eye toward sensible and careful use of tax monies.
The Kelley administration has creative ideas to improve our community and to foster growth. I want to contribute to this effort.